It is the debate most likely to descend into squabbling in boxing circles – who is the pound-for-pound No.1?
Let’s make it clear from the outset; we understand this is a largely pointless argument and that the list is mythical.
But it’s also a bit of fun, so lighten up you lot heckling from the back row.
Following Tyson Fury’s stunning stoppage victory over Deontay Wilder in their trilogy clash last weekend, we decided to canvas our writers as to their top 10 pound-for-pound fighters.
We then attributed each boxer a score from 1-10 based on their position in the list to come up with the ‘definitive’ order.
Few people will argue with the fighter in top sport, but you can let us know your thoughts in the comments section…
9 = Juan Francisco Estrada
Donagh Corby (9): This man would be higher up my list had his win over Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez been more comprehensive. He struggled in a major way against his rival and he needs to offer him another fight, and win that fight again, to land a higher place in the boxing power rankings.
Ben Davies (9): After being entertained in an epic rematch with Chocolatito Gonzalez, Estrada remains one of the world’s leading fighters at super-flyweight. If he was to prevail in a highly-anticipated trilogy bout, he would cement his place in history further and leave a legacy that could send him further towards the summit of the list
Harry Davies (10): If you haven’t watched Estrada’s rematch with Gonazalez, do it now. The two threw a combined 2529 punches with Estrada getting the nod by split decision to defend his super-flyweight titles. The pair will meet in a trilogy in the not-to-distant future.
9 = Vasyl Lomachenko
Martin Domin (10): It was either going to take an exceptional fighter or a big one to defeat Lomachenko and perhaps both were true when the Ukrainian was beaten by Teofimo Lopez. Perhaps harsh that he has dropped down so far but the next 12 months will be crucial.
BD (10): Despite defeat to Lopez, Lomachenko remains in the pound-for-pound debate with his career far from over. After bouncing back with victory over Masayoshi Nakatani, he is set to be in the ring before the end of the year, which could lead to a potential rematch with Lopez in the near future.
HD (9): It’s easy to forget the phenomenal run Lomachenko had as lightweight champion before his loss to Teofimo Lopez. At times the Ukrainian really did look like he was in ‘The Matrix’, as he danced his way to wins against Luke Campbell and Anthony Crolla in 2019.
Rich Jones (10): Would have probably been in the top three prior to defeat against Lopez, but hard to ignore his body of work since turning professional. Masterful skillset, picking apart from top fighters such as Luke Campbell, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Jorge Linares, Jose Pedraza and Anthony Crolla before his only defeat.
Freddie Keighley (9): The dual Olympic champion is on the comeback trail after a unanimous-decision defeat by Lopez to give up his lightweight belts last year. A fight against Richard Commey in December could take the decorated Ukrainian one step closer to a shot at redemption against his American rival, although he appears unwilling to grant a rematch.
8. Teofimo Lopez
MD (8): Hard to fault after just 16 professional fights – including that win over Lomacheko, but until he fights the rivals in his own weight class, judgement must be reserved.
DC (5): Lopez perhaps doesn’t get the credit he deserves due to the lack of top opponents on his resume prior to facing Vasyl Lomachenko. But there are many who had the Ukrainian far and away as their No.1 pound-for-pound fighter before he stepped in the ring, and The Ring Magazine still have him on the list at No.9. Lopez systematically picked him apart with ease, and takes a spot in my top five as a result.
BD (7): Despite currently facing a brief spell of inactivity, Lopez remains one of the leading fighters in the world. After bursting on to the world title scene further by dismantling Vasyl Lomachenko, he now reigns as undisputed champion and could make some huge fights at 135lbs including Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis
HD (8): Teofimo Lopez shocked the boxing world a year ago when he dethroned the seemingly unbeatable Vasyl Lomachenko. It’s an exciting time for the 24-year-old with potential fights against Devin Haney and a Lomachenko rematch being inevitable. Lopez will first have to defend his belts against George Kambosos Jr.
RJ (8): Still only 24 but stunning win over Vasily Lomachenko, widely considered one of the pound-for-pound greats, in his last fight shows how good he is. Showcased his power against Richard Commey and his skill against Lomachenko – looks destined for the very top.
FK (8): The 24-year-old deserves huge praise for beating Lomachenko last October and is set to defend his three lightweight championships against Kambosos Jr. as he looks to bolster his fledgling professional record. He may then search for undisputed status by taking on compatriot Haney, who holds the WBC belt.
Top Rank via Getty Images)
7. Errol Spence
MD (7): There must be some concern over whether he fights again following his eye injury but his win over Kell Brook in 2017 remains a stand-out – and arguably better than anything his rival Terence Crawford has achieved at welterweight.
DC (8): If Spence had fought Manny Pacquiao earlier this year we would probably be looking at the No.3 or No.4 ranked pound-for-pound fighter. It remains to be seen if or when he will be back, but I’d put him top if he came back against Crawford and got the win. It’s going to be a big year for Spence in 2022.
BD (8): Despite suffering injury and missing out on a shot at Pacquiao, Spence is still a unified champion with much success to come. We may never see a huge match-up with Crawford, but he remains arguably the most sought after in a stacked division behind his American rival.
HD (6):Spence has outpointed top welterweights such as Mikey Garcia and Shawn Porter during his unbeaten run to become the unified champion of his division.
RJ (5): Remarkable return from his car crash to beat Danny Garcia and look the business in his last fight. Really impressive run since beating Brook at Bramall Lane and probably the welterweight to beat at present.
FK (5): The American recovered from a car crash two years ago to defeat Danny Garcia last December, but his bout with Pacquiao this summer was called off due to a retinal tear. It remains to be seen when he will recover to put his unified welterweight title on the line and he will quickly slip down these rankings if the answer is not ‘soon’.
6. Josh Taylor
MD (4): What a career the Scotsman has had so far; not only is he the undisputed champion at 140lb but he defeated Regis Prograis and Jose Ramirez in the process – for me those were harder fights than those Crawford was involved in for the same belts.
DC (4): Taylor is the undisputed champion at super-lightweight now, and if he can stay active after fighting Jack Catterrall in December, the sky is the limit for him. He’s got prospective opponents either side of him on this list, and it would be great to see fights between Taylor and the likes of Crawford or Lopez in the near future.
BD (6): Having made history to become the first Briton to win the undisputed four-belt crown, Taylor has impressed as a leading pound-for-pound fighter. With a tough test against Catterall approaching, he could maintain his status and potentially eye further world glory with Teofimo Lopez and Terence Crawford targeted.
HD (7): Josh Taylor has made waves as a professional since winning gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Taylor is one of just two undisputed Scottish champions in boxing. Recently handing Regis Prograis and Jose Ramirez their first loss, Taylor will aim to do the same to WBO mandatory challenger Jack Catterall this December.
RJ (7): The undisputed world champion at his weight class and done so in fine style. Still only 18 fights into his career and certainly has the potential to become a pound-for-pound great if current trajectory continues.
FK (5): Leading the way in a glut of talent between 130 and 145 pounds is the undisputed light-welterweight champion. The Scot’s 2021 activity gives him the edge over some of those below him in the list, as he unified the division in May and defends his titles against Jack Catterall in December.
4 = Terence Crawford
MD (5): Supremely talented but niggles remain until he is involved in a truly career-defining fight. Shawn Porter is not that but he will surely provide a sterner test than Crawford’s previous welterweight opponents.
DC (2): The undisputed champion at light-welterweight before moving up, Crawford has been champion at a number of different weight classes and is another fighter who has appeared to take on all comers regardless of weight. We’re going to get a true test of his mettle when he faces Shawn Porter next month, and if he comes through that he may push on for the No.1 spot.
BD (2): With Shawn Porter to come in November, Crawford remains one the pound-for-pound greats in the current era. Despite waiting for that illustrious unification showdown with Errol Spence, Crawford still has recent victories on his resume that include Kell Brook and ‘Machine’ Kavaliauskas.
HD (5): Like Naoya Inoue, Terence Crawford is an undefeated three-division champion who has an exceptional knockout ratio. ‘Bud’ has knocked out top Brits such as Amir Khan and Kell Brook during his dominant run as welterweight champion. If the American was a bit more active, he’d probably come in just above Inoue on this list.
RJ (6): Has looked sensational in all 37 fights so far and has an unblemished professional record. But he didn’t beat the best Brook last time out, and whilst he can only beat what’s in front of him, he needs a few more big fights to climb into the top five.
FK (7): The other undefeated welterweight king has also been out of action for some time, last facing and defeating Brook via TKO back in November. But Crawford will face former champion Porter next month and his war of words with Spence Jr. appears to be heating up once again.
4 = Tyson Fury
MD (6): Undoubtedly the best heavyweight on the planet but if Oleksandr Usyk wasn’t giving away quite so much weight, he would be fancied to beat the giant ‘Gyspy King’. Has only two stand-out names on his record and needs to add to it over the next two years if he remains in the sport.
DC (7): Heavyweights get a tough go of it on the pound-for-pound lists, and Fury in particular will likely never get his due as a result of his inactivity and lack of world title defences. But he defended his belt in comprehensive fashion last weekend, and he has shown that given any type of opponent he can rise to the challenge and pick up a victory, generally using their style. It would be unfair to leave him off the list.
BD (5): The ‘Gypsy King’ recorded a second remarkable victory over Wilder to remain king of the heavyweight division. His undefeated status as lineal champion remains, and could climb even higher in the rankings if he is to become undisputed champion against the winner of Joshua’s rematch with Usyk. A truly unbeatable force right now.
HD (3): Tyson Fury’s boxing future seemed bleak after ghosting from the sport following his upset win over Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. But upon his return Fury has seen pit an epic trilogy with knockout artist Deontay Wilder and looked unbeatable whilst doing so.
RJ (4): Showed that he is undoubtedly the best heavyweight on the planet against Wilder. It’s hard to see him being beaten, although clearly has size and strength on his side, which helped sap the energy out of his American rival.
FK (2): A breathtaking third encounter with Wilder resulting in an emphatic knockout to conclude the trilogy propels the Brit up the rankings. Like Alvarez, Fury harbours undisputed ambitions but it seems he will need to face mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte before a unification bout against the winner of Usyk and Anthony Joshua’s rematch.
3. Naoya Inoue
MD (3): Was introduced to British fight fans through the World Boxing Super Series and what a treat it was too. Still has time on his side and while he won’t match Pacquiao’s eight-division streak, don’t rule out another step up or two.
DC (6): Perhaps he should be higher on my list, but Inoue has truly proven during his 21 professional fights that he belongs somewhere in the top ten. Bantamweight is a tough division to have a pound-for-pound great compete at, although his credentials in the lower weights indicate something special. Inoue could be higher in my next rankings.
BD (4): Despite being less active in comparison to others, Inoue certainly remains a pound-for-pound contender with recent wins over Jason Moloney and Michael Dasamarinas. Unification bouts against either Jon Riel Casimero or a rematch with Nonito Donaire could further expand his elite credentials, despite already being a three-weight world champion.
HD (4): Naoya Inoue is a three-division champion at the age of just 28 and has looked unstoppable whilst doing so. ‘The Monster’ has finished 18 of his 21 wins and is a wrecking machine at bantamweight. He might not get the recognition he deserves from the public, but he comes in at No.4 on my list.
RJ (3): Nicknamed ‘The Monster’ for a reason. In my opinion, the most powerful puncher in the world pound-for-pound and has cruised from super fly to super bantamweight glory without any real problems.
FK (4): He may not be the biggest draw in the United Kingdom, but the Japanese’s record speaks for itself. Inoue has 21 wins with 18 knockouts and has never tasted defeat. He harbours hopes of adding the remaining bantamweight belts to his WBA and IBF titles but matchmaking with Filipino duo Nonito Donaire and John Riel Casimero has proved troublesome.
2. Oleksandr Usyk
MD (2): After two less-than-convincing performances at heavyweight, Usyk upset the odds against Anthony Josuha to prove size doesn’t always matter. Imagine a world where he and Canelo Alvarez were the same size…
DC (1): The Ukrainian handily defeated Anthony Joshua after going undisputed at cruiserweight, and we have seen very few indications that he will be getting beaten any time soon. He was always high up this list during his days at 200lb, particularly after beating Tony Bellew so comprehensively, but now it feels that you can’t deny his spot
BD (2): After being doubted upon his step-up to heavyweight as undisputed cruiserweight champion, he silenced the critics emphatically by dethroning Joshua last month with technical brilliance. He earns a deserved place in the top three, and could cement his status further with rematch victory.
HD (2): After his upset win against Anthony Joshua last month, Oleksandr Usyk has leapfrogged up to No.2 on this list. He passed his first test against one of the best current heavyweights with flying colours, having unified his cruiserweight titles before moving up in weight.
RJ (2): Dismantled Joshua after conquering the cruiserweight division. Stunning wins over the likes of Murat Gassiev and Mairis Breidis, and to now step up to heavyweight and replicate that success against much bigger men is hugely impressive.
FK (3): Usyk has made a seamless transition from undisputed cruiserweight king to unified heavyweight champion. It’s hard to see how AJ can reverse the result in the rematch, while a fight with Fury – half a foot taller than Usyk – could prove one step too far for the 34-year-old.
Action Images via Reuters)
1. Canelo Alvarez
MD (1): As close to perfect as you could wish to see from a boxer; it really is that simple.
DC (3): This man is universally considered the No.1 pound-for-pound, but there is something that doesn’t sit right with his consistent dismissals of Demetrius Andrade, a very legitimate world champion whose lack of big wins seems to only be a result of his inability to attract big-name opponents. Perhaps a win over Caleb Plant for the undisputed belt will land Alvarez at my No.1.
BD (1): The Mexican undoubtedly remains the pound-for-pound king as he chases the undisputed super-middleweight crown. Consistently facing top level opponents such as Billy Joe Saunders and Callum Smith puts him no doubt as the leading fighter in the world, and could cement his status further with victory over Caleb Plant.
HD (1): Canelo Alvarez’s only loss came when he was just 23 against arguably boxing’s ‘GOAT’, Floyd Mayweather. The Mexican has proceeded to decisively put away whomever is stood across from him and is one of the most active current champions.
RJ (1): Staggering progression through the weights, and the win over Sergey Kovalev at light-heavyweight was a remarkable jump through the weights. Wins against Smith and Saunders – both expected to be real tests – cement his status as the pound-for-pound king.
FK (1): The Mexican superstar has been top of the pound-for-pound rankings for some time and that doesn’t look like changing soon. Having outclassed Billy Joe Saunders in May to add a third super middleweight belt to his collection, he can end the year as undisputed champion by defeating Caleb Plant next month.
*Fighters who missed the cut: Oscar Valdez, Callum Smith and Gennady Golovkin